20 June 2016, Written by Laura Daquino


ADELAIDE Crows defensive coach and former player James 'Pods' Podsiadly has gone back to his first love with his new startup.

He still loves footy, and gives the Crows his all from Friday to Wednesday, but his day off is when he 'reactivates'.

The AFL veteran recently launched The Wellbeing Challenge through his company Reactivate Group, which he co-founded with Paul Baulch.

The Wellbeing Challenge incorporates the best of Podsiadly's (pictured) sports and exercise science background, and Baulch's experience as general manager of health and safety at Coles Group and general manager of health, safety and environment at Telstra.

Podsiadly started in the health space before playing AFL, and says his passion for researching developments in the field of positive psychology only grew while he was playing.

"I really thought there was a gap in the market after doing a whole lot of research in the space. I didn't see anything from an employee wellbeing program that was realistic in terms of affordability and scope," says Podsiadly.

The Wellbeing Challenge is a new platform and app where employees can manage all aspects of wellbeing including exercise, nutrition, social, finance, leadership, mindfulness, sleep and career.

"Most programs focus on exercise or nutrition, one or the other, and we actually want to talk about wellbeing as multi-faceted," says Podsiadly.

"The top two things that people stress about in Australia are finance and relationships. 

"Our app is about building resilience. There's a massive gap between what we know about health and wellbeing and what we do as a society. The opportunity existed because I didn't see it being rolled out in a simple way at an affordable cost."

Podsiadly says there are up to 15 people working on Reactivate at any one time, which includes a team of app developers.

The Wellbeing Challenge is evidence-based, validated by behavioural change professors and researchers. It runs as a 10-week program administered through an app. 

Podsiadly is personally working with a number of researchers on the topic, recently co-authoring write a paper at University of South Australia, and now sitting down with Flinders University to help guide their research.

"We are making sure what we're implementing in 2016 is completely different to what was coming out of this field 10 years ago," says Podsiadly.

"Ideas on workplace health have been around for 40 or 50 years but stress, obesity and other health issues are only increasing - the old way clearly isn't working."

Podsiadly says employees these days want to feel empowered, so the app is based around the individual charting their own course.

"Our framework is 'choose your own journey' so the individual user chooses the wellbeing journey they want to commit to at the start of the week, and from there, their employer receives data about the journey," he says.

"When we talk about return on investment, we talk about employee engagement. We track how often they are engaging with the app and send this data straight back to the employer.

"Not too far in the future, if your workplace doesn't have a wellbeing program or wellbeing as part of it's culture, you will lose your staff."

Author: Laura Daquino Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn





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